Serving in the military is a huge sacrifice for families, but one soldiers readily make year after year. They vow to protect their country and, ultimately, their loved ones back home.
Soldiers stay in touch with their loved ones via live video whenever possible, and through email -- sometimes even old-fashioned letter writing suffices. When they're in the middle of the ocean on a carrier ship, with nothing by miles of glistening waves around them, it can get lonely even when surrounded by fellow soldiers.
Holed up in a temporary base in the middle of the desert with bombs exploding all around can make a soldier miss home dearly, even with such an important job to do. So when a soldier has the opportunity to head home even for a short period of time, everyone gets excited.
Loved ones have been spied holding up huge signs at airports greeting their soldier as he or she heads toward them. These reunions are beautiful and charged with emotion.
Sometimes, families will stage surprises for loved ones when a soldier comes home, such as ambushing a parent at work or a younger sibling at school. The videos they share on the Internet when the loved one and the soldier first lay eyes on each other are fantastic -- they'll even bring a tear to your eye.
For little sister Amanda Williams, her day started out like any other. She headed off to school without an inkling that a huge surprise was looming for her.
She donned her cheerleading outfit and was rehearsing in the school gym with her teammates after school when she glanced up briefly. What she saw in the doorway made her emit an ear piercing scream!
There was her brother in his Army fatigues home for Christmas. Amanda's response is simply awesome -- she squeals and sprints across the gym, then leaps into his arms.
She was so excited to see her big brother who had been gone for quite some time that she even knocked his hat off his head while throwing her arms around him! You can tell how much she missed him by the way she clings to her big brother.